Pet Obesity and Weight Loss

posted: by: CPH Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Obesity is a major concern for today’s pets. Overweight animals generally suffer more physical ailments, and have potentially shorter life spans than animals of recommended weight. It often reduces the pet’s ability to enjoy life. Obesity can lead to the same issues it causes in humans, including cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory weakness, and musculoskeletal deterioration.
Is my Pet Obese?

Bringing your pet to the veterinarian for regular physical exams is the best way to identify obesity and to discuss a plan for weight loss. It is also important to talk with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying disease that may be the cause of the problem. Here are some things your Vet considers when identifying obesity:
  • The ribs of your pet should be easily felt without pressing, but not seen. There should not be a pad of fat over them.
  • While looking at you pet from above when it is standing, there should be a visible “waist” between the back of the ribs and the hips. While viewing your pet from the side there should be a “tummy tuck” where the stomach should go up from the back of the ribcage to the inside of the pets thighs.
Many owners feel that some fat on their pet is “healthy fat” but that is a myth. As discussed before, many health issues arise when a pet is overweight.

Now What Do I do?
There are many changes that can be made to your pet’s diet to help with weight loss. Sometimes, decreasing the amount of food fed by 1/8 to1/3 portion will be all your pet needs. Other times, cutting out all treats is the trick for weight loss with your pet. Most of the time it is a combination of many changes that will be the trick. Here are some suggestions:
  • As discussed before: Cut back the amount of food fed by 1/8 to 1/3.
  • Substitute vegetables like carrots or broccoli for treats.
  • Of course, more exercise! Two 20 minute walks a day can make a dramatic difference with weight loss.
  • This is for the people that feed their pets home-made diets: decrease the amount of carbohydrates in a meal. Increased carbohydrates in the body stimulate additional insulin to be produced which tells the body to store unused calories as fat!
  • Communication and compliance with the entire household is a must! Often one member in the household will feel sorry for the dieting pet and give the pet “just a little” something extra. It would be more beneficial for the pet to take it for a walk or a run.
  • Last but not least: weigh your pet every 2 to 3 weeks to ensure your efforts are working.
There are many commercially made diets for pets that are advertised to help with weight loss. It is important with these foods to read the labels carefully. Ideally, weight loss foods should be higher in protein and fiber, lower in fat and carbohydrates. If you are unsure about the diet food you are offering your pet, give your veterinarian’s office a call. We are here to help you with any of your or your pet’s needs.